ALBANY, N.Y. – Led by junior Terrance West, who ran for 183yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns, No. 7 Towson University (7-1, 3-1) overcame four turnovers and an early 7-3 deficit as the Tigers ran for 279 yards en route to a 44-17 Colonial Athletic Association victory over Albany (1-7, 0-4) at Bob Ford Field on Saturday afternoon.
For the Tigers, it marked their eighth consecutive win on the road, a mark that dates back to Oct. 27, 2012 and a win over Villanova.
The victory enabled Towson to keep pace with CAA leader Maine (6-1, 3-0). The Black Bears beat William & Mary on Saturday.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Tigers fell behind in the first quarter.
Midway through the first quarter, a fumble by Spencer Wilkins after making a catch at the 50-yard line was recovered by Michael Nicastro, who returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. However, the Tigers received a break when Albany was called for holding, negating the touchdown and giving the Great Danes a first down at the Towson 32-yard line. But, the Tiger defense held and forced a punt.
On their next possession, the Tigers turned the ball over again. Defensive end Cory Connell tipped a pass into the air and caught it for an interception at the Towson 24-yard line. Three plays later, wide receiver Jake Meek lined up at quarterback, took a direct snap and scored on a 10-yard touchdown run. Tom O’Riordan’s conversion kick gave the Great Danes a 7-0 lead.
The Tigers came right back and drove to the Albany 33-yard line. Graduate student Drew Evangelista got the Tigers on the scoreboard when he made a 50-yard field goal on the final play of the first quarter, pulling Towson to within 7-3.
Albany responded by driving to the Towson 31-yard line. But, the Great Danes’ drive stalled and the Tigers took over on downs when Syd Holt sacked Will Fiacchi on fourth down.
Over the next 3:38, the Tigers scored three touchdowns to take the lead. Five plays after the sack by Holt, a 38-yard touchdown pass from Peter Athens to Wilkins gave Towson a 10-7 advantage with 10:20 left in the first half. Less than two minutes later, sophomore Donnell Lewis intercepted a pass at the Albany 38-yard line and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 17-7 lead.
With 6:42 remaining in the half, West broke loose for a 59-yard touchdown run, giving Towson a 24-7 advantage with 6:42 left in the half.
It appeared that the Tigers were going to add to their lead late in the first half. Towson drove from its own 13-yard line to the Albany seven-yard line. However, freshman Darius Victor fumbled on his way to the end zone and the Great Danes recovered in the end zone.
In the final minute of the half, the Great Danes drove to the Towson 17-yard line. On fourth down, O’Riordan kicked a 35-yard field goal, cutting the Albany deficit to 24-10 at halftime.
On the opening drive of the second half, Athens hooked up with Wilkins for a 51-yard pass play to set up West’s second touchdown run of the game. When West scored on a seven-yard run, it capped off an 84-yard, 10-play drive and gave Towson a 31-10 lead.
Midway through the third quarter, the Tigers moved the ball to the Albany nine-yard line. Athens tried to throw another touchdown pass to Wilkins in the end zone but JoJo McClary intercepted at the back line of the end zone.
On Towson’s next possession, West ran for 49 yards on back-to-back plays as the Tigers drove into Albany territory. With 4:26 remaining in the third quarter, Victor scored on a seven-yard touchdown run to give Towson a 38-10 advantage.
“I am proud of our guys for the way they rallied around each other and pulled out the win,” said Coach Rob Ambrose. “Albany played well and we were fortunate to come back the way we did. Those turnovers are eventually going to keep us from reaching our goals.
“So, we are going to continue to work on it,” he added. “For now, I am just really proud and happy to get out of here with a win.”
With the Tigers leading by 38-10 late in the third period, the Great Danes got on the scoreboard again. On a fourth down play, Fiacci threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Jameel Gay to pull Albany to within 38-17.
In the fourth quarter, the Tiger reserves added an insurance touchdown when they drove 54 yards in eight plays. Junior Trea Jones scored on a two-yard run to give Towson a 44-17 lead.
The Tigers, who have won 16 of their last 20 CAA games, had 573 yards of total offense against Albany. Athens completed 22 of 33 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two interceptions. Wilkins caught six passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. He has now had four consecutive 100-yard receiving games.
Junior cornerback Tye Smith led the Tiger defense with 11 tackles and a forced fumble.
The Tigers return to action next week when they visit Richmond on Saturday at 12 noon.